Monday, December 31, 2012

Moving Forward

It's the last day of the year and a few weeks since my last post. I've heard people say that bloggers often don't post when things aren't going so well. But one thing I wanted to ensure with my blogging was being real, being honest, and being consistent. I think that it's important to see how others struggle and cope with the ups and downs of training and racing, parenting and working. I think I blogged about the stress of moving, a few days after returning from the Rotterdam Marathon! Also, I've been pretty busy with the Christmas season and using my iphone 5 more so haven't sat at my laptop for several days.
As you know, December was to be a season of rest and recovery. And it's been, just that.
After many assessments, trips to the GTA, and discussions, we finally got my plan in place. Over the last several years, I've patched together my health care providers to meet my needs. Fortunately I never had a serious injury that kept me from training or racing for very long; I had little things here and there that were fixed by various local providers, who've been great. Going to Aurora to see Ron O'Hare regularly would be super, but a 3 hr return trip is not practical. I had a long list of various providers such as osteopaths, physios, chiropractors, and massage therapists in Dundas, Brantford, and Paris but was really hoping I could see one main person, in Brantford. I knew it wouldn't be a quick and easy fix, rather one that required specific routine exercises. Ron, Rick, Jonathan and I were trying to come up with a plan.
Then, I sat with Rob.
When things work out well for people, they often say they are "lucky" or ask, "What are the chances?". But,  I believe that when we give our problems to God, He works them out in His ways in His time. It had been 2 months since pulling my glute mede at STWM and my hip was still swollen with no plan in place. I had been able to train for and run in Japan, still had no pain, was enjoying the break, and maintaining my fitness but a bit concerned that I had no plan to get after this chronic tendon issue. And I was nearing the upper limit of the weight I did not want to surpass! I was feeling discouraged. Then during a 2.5 hr hockey practice, I sat with hockey coach and physiotherapist Rob McCall, and we got the ball rolling; I had an appointment with his physiotherapist wife, Sherri at Essential Physiotherapy, two days later. The two of them (and Ron) had come up with the reason for the tendon problem. Long story short is that my pelvis has likely been misaligned since my first pregnancy, 7 years ago! In 2010, after running 4 marathons in one year, I had pain in my right hip and right plantar fascitis. Then, I was pregnant again with #3. The break from running was good but again, the pelvis was unbalanced with a heavy load! The cambered running with my increased mileage also made the situation worse this past season. They were surprised it didn't surface earlier. The best part, about when Sherri and Patricia did my hands-on assessment, was that it was consistent with Rob's theoretical assessment and they didn't even blink because of their specialization in pre/postnatal care. Hey ladies, if you've been experiencing issues during of after your pregnancy, get yourself into this place. They know their stuff.
So, I've seen Sherri and Patricia 4 times in two weeks, which is pretty good considering the busy schedules and limited hours over the Christmas holidays! The first time they explained things to me and told me that my body had to stop compensating and retrain the right muscles to work properly, all I could think about was the expression, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks". I could hard recognize the muscles in my lower abs that had to be used right, despite the fact that I had routinely worked on my core. Also, the left leg was so weak that it shook during some exercises and we often had to use less weight to complete them properly. I didn't know how I could "retrain" myself. BUT, with prayer, practise, and patience, I got my green light December 28 to advance to pool running. Dr Richards/Leung had initially said that my left leg was 60% strength and I could pool run at 75% and run at 90%. I was so encouraged when Sherri assessed the leg and said, "Oh yeah, you can pool run". I knew the left leg was stronger due to rest, cardio, weights, and physio exercises at home, but wanted my providers to make the call. So, I'm guessing that we'll stick to pool running for a few weeks before starting some running. When I start running, we really have to make sure that I watch my surfaces with the wintry weather and cambered roads that were also a major contributing factor to the tendonosis. Good thing I'm a treadmill runner! I'm also making other changes such as not crossing my legs or ankles, watching my posture, and holding Leah in the middle of my body. No more baby on the hip! I've had my fill of sweets and turkey dinners and look forward to moving forward, getting back to where I belong. Rick and I are going to meet to discuss my training plan, now that my break is nearly over and my hip is improving. We'll likely start with workouts on the bike, elliptical and pool. Running will be easy, once I start. Realistically I see a solid six month plan, starting in February, leading to worlds in August. So, the races I had planned to do between now and then are likely going to be more for training than anything else; the Robbie Burns 8 km, Chilly Half Marathon, and Around the Bay 30 km likely won't be as fast as last year but I'll be pleased to get even one of them in, if that.
Recently Rejean posted about his running routes in Toronto, which gave me the idea to do something similar. So, I've included some pictures to show how I've kept my fitness and built my strength, indoors! I've done quite a bit of walking outdoors, including a great non-stop-talk 1.5 hr walk with Karen Harvey, but these pictures are to encourage you to explore the indoor options.
I'd better get to my laundry mountain, find and feed my kids but I do hope to return to my laptop to do a recap of 2012, perhaps tomorrow on the first day of the year after the New Year's Run with the Brantford Tournament of Races. 
Jonathan and Micah plan to do the 5 km together. Seth, Leah and I will do the fun 1 km run.Then, like last year we'll go to Cora's for Breakfast. We love family traditions.
Happy New Year!
2012 was great.
2013 will be even better.

Strengthening my quads and hamstrings.

Back on the elliptical.
These machines will remain part of my strength routine. Gotta keep the adductor and abductor muscles in fine form.
Of course there is the pool. I started swimming regularly in 2005 when I was injured and couldn't run. I tell people that it was likely the best thing to happen to me as it taught me the value of cross-training. I often tell people that swimming is my water physio. I usually mix it up between laps and pool running over an hour.
Herbie Jr. is my shiny red bicycle. It's been with me at the cabin and in triathlon races but mostly in the basement. As a mom, I'm so glad to have the bike for those days I need a back-up plan.

Here's the "Reformer" at Essential Physio. The first time I used it, I was pretty weak in the left leg. It's amazing how I've progressed. Thanks, Sherri and Patricia. I look forward to you providing my care.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

To Everything there is a Season

To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under the sun.
A time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill and a time to heal ...
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance ...
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to lose and a time to seek;
a time to rend and a time to sew;
a time to keep silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Like many, this passage has been particularly meaningful to me during various times in my life. On a more serious note, it had incredible meaning when read aloud at my dad's funeral in 1995, after he lost his short battle with cancer. He was once a strong farmer who got six kids to their many extra-curricular activities while caring for my mom who suffered from mental health issues and cancer. I'll always remember our family Christmas trip to Florida, his keen interest in my hockey and running (he died exactly at the time of one of my OFSAA races), and the high level of respect shown to him in our farming and church communities. He certainly had his seasons, many of which we enjoyed together.
Like my father lived his life, I've always believed in enjoying every stage, or season, of my life.
When I became a dietitian, I was glad to leave the life of a student and start that of a career woman. 
When I became a mom, I knew I wanted to enjoy every part of it, starting with the baby stage (still my favourite, by far) while moving through the seasons with my husband and children. It has been the most amazing journey so far!
Now as a professional (if I can say that) marathoner, I am enjoying the many seasons of training, racing, and now ... recovering. As I wrote in October after the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, I had an issue with my hip/bum. Prior to the race, I had some minor pain in the area (ok I'll say it now, a "pain in the butt"). During the race (at 35 km, around the time I fell off my Canadian record-breaking 2:28:30 pace), I thought I pulled something in my hip. I could not walk without pain upon finishing. I had some bruising for a few days, and some swelling, which has remained since. You can actually see the swelling in the 2013 STWM rack card (cool, on the rack card, not the swelling). I took 10 complete days off then was able to do some decent training (run, bike, swim) in preparation for a successful 5 km at the Chiba Ekiden race in Japan without any pain. While there, I was assessed by Team Canada therapist, Ron O'Hare . This guy is amazing. He and Coach Rick discussed my situation, and upon our return Ron made a few phone calls and appointments, and we soon had our answers. Thanks to Dr. Richards and Dr. Leung and the speedy MRI and x-ray they ordered, we now know that the chronic hip pain is tendonopathy, which existed prior to the race and is the reason the injury is lingering.  The acute hip pain was a grade one strain of the glute medius, which happened at 35 km, as it could no longer work for the weak tendon when pushed to the limit during the race. Camber and over-use are likely to blame.Also, when I was a 1 yr old, I broke my right leg so there was some question about whether or not there was a leg discrepancy but the x-ray revealed that this is not so. My left leg is at 60% strength but with some strengthening and rest, it should return to 100%. After discussion with the doctors, I was actually relieved to be told I should not run. I had planned to take December as a down month so this has made it that much easier. Ron, Rick and I will work together to get a plan in place so that I can maintain my fitness and recover completely, in order to be at my finest when I start training for worlds. So, I am enjoying this new season of rest and cross-training. I'm doing about 45-90 minutes/day of biking/swimming/elliptical as well as weights/core/stretching and some brisk walking. I've enjoyed staying up a bit later in the evenings, and having more energy during the day to get things done around the house (my husband installed a new central vac system that I have yet to use). We finally put some pictures and mirrors up on the walls (remember, we moved the weekend I returned from Rotterdam after going for the Olympic standard?!), and got the house decorated for Christmas on the weekend. I enjoyed a lovely day in Dundas with my friend, Adrienne (a yearly tradition since interning together in Kingston, 10 years ago) and have been active in the community with the Brantford Tournament of Races Banquet and various school and church Christmas activities, as well as the kids' usual hockey and school routines. I look forward to doing much more during this off time; hosting my family Christmas, seeing more family and friends, learning more about my NEW iPhone 5 (thank you, Jonathan), Christmas shopping, and scrap-booking.

To everything there is a season. Enjoy this CHRISTmas season with family and friends. "It's the most wonderful time of the year!"